Linebacker Kolin Demens was recruited out of Detroit two years ago by some of the top Power Five programs in the NCAA – UCLA, Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Pittsburgh and Kentucky among them – and actually verbally committed to one of them.

Kolin Demens

Instead, after attending Avon Old Farms, a prep school in Connecticut, this year, he’s ending up in Orono to play for the University of Maine.

And the Black Bears – coming off a 10-4 season that saw them compete in the Football Championship Subdivision semifinals for the first time – know they’re getting someone special.

According to HERO Sports, a website that covers all college sports at every level, the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Demens was the No. 2 recruit in all of FCS football.

“For whatever reason he fell through a bit,” said Nick Charlton, the new head football coach at UMaine. “We started recruiting him the day we got out. I think I was down there the second day on the road. We offered him on the spot. He’s a really good player and a great person.”

The Power Five programs that recruited him out of Birmingham Detroit Country Day dropped off, Demens said. Iowa State and a couple of other Football Bowl Subdivision teams showed interest. But, said Demens, “Mostly it was the FCS schools.”

And Maine came out on top. “We just built a really good relationship once we started talking,” he said.

Demens, 18, was greatly impressed by the coaching staff – “They have a young coaching staff, so they relate to a young dude like me,” he said – and he enjoyed the campus on his official visit at the beginning of February.

“It was cold,” said Demens. “But I’m used to that. My visit was great, I liked everything. The players really opened up their arms to me. I can’t wait to get there.”

And he can’t wait to get into Maine’s defensive system, where the linebackers are in the middle of just about everything the Black Bears do.

“Yeah, they bring the heat a lot and that’s right up my alley,” said Demens. “They do the right things for their linebackers.”

And he knows he has a lot of work ahead. Charlton made it clear when he was recruiting Demens that the linebacker position at Maine was stacked. Deshawn Stevens led Maine with 120 tackles, 17 tackles for a loss and nine sacks. Taji Lowe was second in tackles with 85, along with 15 tackles for a loss and three sacks. Jaron Grayer had 42 tackles, seven tackles for a loss and four sacks.

“We recruited him for a reason and he’ll show that,” said Charlton. “But he’s got to earn everything, like the other guys. He’s a really good prospect at linebacker but he’ll have to challenge to play at that position. It’s one of the deepest and most challenging positions on the team.”

As a football player, Demens – whose older brother Kenny played for Michigan and the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals – is more than just a linebacker.

His high school coach, Dan MacLean, told the Detroit News in January of 2018 that Demens was a triple threat on offense: “Kolin’s versatility and athleticism are what stood out. He threw four TDs in his high school career, ran for five TDs and caught seven TDs … You know everyone’s recruited him as a linebacker, but this guy is a heck of a receiver. His ball skills were phenomenal, great hands and leaping ability. And he is known primarily as a defensive player.”

As a senior at Detroit Country Day, Demens had 60 tackles – 12 for a loss – along with three interceptions and three fumble recoveries. He also caught 20 passes for 275 yards and four touchdowns. He played some running back for Avon Old Farms last fall.

And that was a big reason Charlton likes him so much.

“He’s a physical kid that moves well,” said Charlton. “And with the way the offenses are that we go against, with the spread stuff, a linebacker needs to be athletic. You can’t be giant linebacker who can’t move. You need guys who can move too.”

Demens had originally committed to UCLA on Oct. 21, 2017. But after a coaching change at UCLA, he de-committed on Dec. 4.

That led him to Avon Old Farms – smack in the middle of UMaine’s recruiting area. “In terms of geography, that probably had a lot to do with us getting him,” said Charlton.

Michigan, where Demens grew up, is a secondary recruiting region for the Black Bears, who concentrate on the East Coast and New England.

Demens said the recruiting process was an eye-opener.

“The whole process from committing (to UCLA) to de-commiting to committing to Maine has been a journey,” he said. “I don’t regret anything.”

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

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